Zucchini, Caper, and Parmesan Naan Pizza

A naan pizza on parchment paper covered in thinly sliced zucchini, capers, parmesan cheese, and parsley.

I always keep a bag of naan in my freezer for those times where I’m cooking for one and I want a personal pizza or flatbread in under 20 minutes. I don’t have to worry about the annoying process of stretching out pizza dough (I know, I know, it’s supposed to be fun but I have very little patience with anything dough-related) and naan is the perfect size for a pizza meant for one person. This zucchini version comes together quickly, especially if you have a mandolin for the slicing, and the tanginess of the capers, the nuttiness of the parmesan, and the garlicky olive oil blend together effortlessly to form a naan pizza with big flavour and a very short list of ingredients.

zucchini, caper, and parmesan naan pizza:

Naan bread

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

A small handful of parsley, chopped into tiny pieces

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Very thinly sliced zucchini, enough to cover the naan with some overlap

1 tsp. pickled capers, chopped

Parmigiano-Reggiano or other very firm and flavourful cheese, finely grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a a generous pinch of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Using a pastry brush, coat the naan with a generous amount of the oil and garlic mixture making sure to leave some for the brushing on top of the zucchini.
  4. Place the oil-brushed naan on a parchment-lined baking tray and warm in the oven for about 5-6 minutes or until the naan is just starting to crisp up. Remove from oven.
  5. Layer the zucchini slices on the naan with a slight overlap and brush with the remaining garlic and parsley oil. Scatter the chopped capers over the zucchini and top with a fine layer of parmesan.
  6. Broil the zucchini naan pizza for a couple of minutes, making sure the edges don’t brown too much and the cheese begins to melt. Slice into three pieces with a pizza cutter and enjoy while hot or at room temperature.

Close-up photo of olive oil with parsley and garlic.

When my sister told me about this album I didn’t believe it existed, which is ridiculous in retrospect because why wouldn’t this be a real thing? This is the first remix on the album and in my opinion it’s the best one. I mean, I already listen to Enya without shame on my own but the combination of Enya as well as Dntel results in an ethereal layering of voices and warmth that makes for a beautiful listening experience.

Dntel – After Ventus (Enya Mixes)

Spicy Pickled Watermelon Radish

Thinly sliced watermelon radish on a white background with parsley.

This recipe for pickled watermelon radish follows a very basic method for making refrigerator pickles and can easily be used to pickle any other crunchy vegetable. Watermelon radishes are so delightfully twee in appearance and the pickling process renders them a delicate shade of rose, making them look absolutely gorgeous laid out on a cheese or charcuterie board. These pickles need to sit for at least 48 hours before they’re ready to eat and can potentially stay in your fridge for a whole month, although it’s doubtful they’ll hang around that long.

spicy pickled watermelon radish:

2-3 watermelon radishes, sliced as thinly as possible into rounds

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1-2 dried whole chiles

1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup of white wine vinegar

1/2 cup of unseasoned rice vinegar

1 cup of water

1/3 cup of white granulated sugar

  1. Prepare 1 medium-sized canning jar by washing it in very hot, soapy water and allowing to hand-dry or running it through the dishwasher.
  2. Add the mustard and coriander seeds and dried chile pepper to the jar.
  3. Bring the vinegars, water, sugar, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (how’s that for accidental alliteration?).
  4. Pour the hot brine over the sliced watermelon radish leaving a couple of centimetre’s space at the top, carefully applying the lid and smoothing out any air bubbles so that a tight seal is formed.
  5. Store the pickled watermelon radish in the fridge and let them sit for at least 48 hours and up to a month.

It’s another bright and sunny day in Vancouver and frankly speaking, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a precipice looking down into 6 months of rain and scatterings of damp snow. I’m hanging on by listening to the sunniest music I can get my hands on (and, I’ll admit, maybe secretly playing my autumn favourites ahead of time). If you feel like upping the dreaminess of making homemade pickles out of watermelon radishes then I’d highly suggest creating kitchen ambience with this sunny little album. It’s an effortless listen, pairing well in the mornings with a cup of tea or with a cold Ting and whatever-you-fancy cocktail later in the day.

Vince Guaraldi & Bola Sete – Y Sus Amigos (full album)

 

Easy Oven Ribs

Ribs with scallions, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce in small dishes on a rectangular plate.Living in Vancouver (or any other ridiculously expensive city) means that owning the actual space and equipment to barbecue is a luxury. I wish I could go back in time and remind younger me of this fact, I would have been on the deck barbecuing every single meal all year long. I used to think that tasty ribs cooked in the oven were a contradiction in terms, which is silly when you think about it – ribs taste delicious however they’re cooked! I’ve been using my dear Uncle Howard’s rib recipe for a couple of years, it doesn’t feel like a real family gathering until he’s handed me the perfect spicy Caesar. He’s cautioned me on the fact that people think boiling ribs to soften them up is a taboo practice which is baffling to me, as this recipe makes the tenderest and most flavourful ribs I’ve ever tasted. Regardless, I’m here to tell you that delicious ribs can be made in your oven and best of all, the recipe can be completed in small steps well-ahead of time. The type of rib you choose isn’t exceptionally important, what you’re looking for is plenty of meat and a minimum of dangling excess fat and sinew (also known as silver skin). You can make your own barbecue sauce or buy it, I find that if I’m having a large dinner party it’s easier (and cheaper!) to buy store-bought barbecue sauce. I think that ribs are best when served with coleslaw and corn on the cob, this isn’t a rule by any means but I’ve never had ribs that didn’t taste heavenly when they were served with either or both of these two sides.

Easy Oven Ribs 2

easy oven ribs:

As many ribs as you need per person, err on a larger amount and you’ll (fingers crossed) have leftovers

3 lemons, rinsed under very hot water to remove their bitter and waxy flavour

1 whole head of garlic, each clove smashed to remove the skin and left whole

1/2 cup of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. whole peppercorn

Barbecue sauce

  1. Heat a very large stock pot over high heat about two thirds full of water. Add the lemons, garlic, salt, and peppercorns.
  2. Carefully remove any of the tough silver skin found on the ribs, this tough tissue should be loosened at one end and then torn from the ribs in one piece.
  3. Add the ribs to the boiling water, turn the heat down to simmering, and cook for one hour.
  4. Remove the ribs from the boiling water and lay on a large baking pan, transfer the meat to the fridge and allow to cool down completely (I like to leave them overnight).
  5. Take the ribs out of the fridge about half and hour before broiling and preheat the broiler. Brush ribs on both sides with barbecue sauce using a pastry brush, brown under the broiler until the sugars start to caramelize, flipping with tongs so that the both sides can begin to brown and sizzle.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven and serve with coleslaw, corn on the cob, watermelon, or any other summery side you prefer.

What can I say? I’ve been listening to The Cars almost non-stop the past week.

The Cars – Drive

Easy Sweet Corn Salad with Basil and Feta

White square plate with sweet corn salad with basil and feta cheese.

Fresh corn is such a distinctly nostalgic thing to eat. It’s attached to so many memories of heading sleepily home after a day at The Pinery, a provincial park lining several sandy beaches along Lake Huron. My parents would pull over at a roadside produce stand, the kind involving a strict honour system and a glass jar for payment, and come back with bags of fresh corn and peaches. Compared to my idyllic childhood experience of lazily prepping corn on a lawn chair in the backyard, still wearing my bathing suit in case the lawn sprinkler was turned on after dinner, husking corn in a small apartment is slightly less picturesque. Although any method of preparing the corn will work, I like to roast mine husk, silk, and all in my toaster oven; the corn is steamed and the rest falls away easily once its cooled down. Using apple cider vinegar for the pickled shallots makes the corn taste even sweeter and fresh basil offers, well, the amazing taste and aroma of fresh basil. You could use Cotija cheese or chevre if you prefer, but I like creamy Macedonian feta best of all. Since fresh corn is only available for a short amount of time you can definitely use good-quality frozen corn in its place, heat it up in a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet until just starting to char in spots. This salad goes with just about any summer meal you can think of; barbecued chicken, skewered vegetables with tzatziki, and watermelon are a few of my favourite accompaniments.

sweet corn salad with basil and feta:

Corn from 5-6 cobs of corn

3 shallots, finely minced

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 large handful of fresh basil + more for garnish, cut in a chiffonade

About 2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Add the corn to a large salad bowl. In a small mixing bowl combine the shallots with the apple cider vinegar; let stand for 15 minutes. Add the olive oil, mustard, basil, salt, and pepper to taste; pour over the corn. Finish the salad by sprinkling with the crumbled feta and extra basil, tasting to see if it needs and more salt or freshly cracked pepper. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.

I know fall is fast approaching when my American Analog Set listening goes up, soon I’ll be walking around in warm sweaters at night listening to this album on headphones. For now, I perversely listen to them while preparing some of the summeriest food imaginable. Such a lovely melody, I can smell the autumn leaves already.

American Analog Set – Magnificent Seventies

How to Make Amazing Cold Brew Iced Coffee with a French Press and an Ice Cube Tray

A Mason jar full of milky iced coffee against a burgundy background.

My love of cold brew iced coffee is comparable to say, my love of listening to Nick Drake while walking around at dusk: that is to say, immense, deep, and neverending. I like to drink it black and unsweetened, although I’ve never turned down an iced coffee that’s had a drop or two of cream added. As a freelance writer in the summertime I go through an embarrassing amount of iced coffee and when I add it all up it seems crazy that I’m not making my own. I started making cold brew iced coffee in my French press instead and I have to say, I think it’s even better than what my local coffee shop is selling. What makes it so delicious? The ice cubes! I make two batches of coffee, one hot and one cold brew, and then fill ice cube trays up with the hot coffee for the following day. No watery iced coffee endings anymore, the entire experience is as loaded with caffeine as it could possibly be. Cold brew iced coffee needs at least 12 hours to sit so I’ve been making everything the night before – waking up has never been this hopped up and amazing!

for the coffee ice cubes:

Make coffee as you normally would using a French press and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze for future use in iced coffee. If the coffee on coffee component makes you leery and you enjoy milky coffee these cubes can be piled high in a glass and topped with the milk of your choice (this works really well for iced coffee on the go).

for the cold brew iced coffee:

The trick with cold brew coffee is to grind the beans coarsely, the flavour will be fabulous and you won’t have to worry about grounds floating around after you lower the press. Use about 3 times more coffee than you normally would, this will leave you with strong coffee that can be diluted with water or dairy. Cover the coffee grinds with filtered cold water, stir gently, and cover with plastic wrap before transferring to the fridge overnight and up to 24 hours. Since the coffee is being extracted in cold water the finished product won’t have strong acidity and bitter notes but it will have plenty of caffeine. Plunge the coffee as usual and pour over the coffee ice cubes, leaving room to dilute with with water or the dairy/non-dairy of your choice.

*If you like to sweeten your cold brew coffee it’s a good idea to keep some simple syrup made with either sugar or honey hanging around. Simple syrup will sweeten your coffee uniformly and will taste much better than regular cold brew with sugar sitting undissolved at the bottom of your glass.

A Mason jar filled with iced coffee and coffee ice cubes sitting on the book Alligator Pie by Dennis Leery.

Oh weird, yet ANOTHER 4AD artist I’m obsessed with (add it to the list: Belly, Tanya Donelly, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, Grimes, Blonde Redhead, Lush, Camera Obscura, Ultra Vivid Scene, Deerhunter – it’s like someone made a record label just for me).

Daughter – Numbers

Chilled Watermelon Soup with Roasted Apricots and Tomatoes

A shallow white soup bowl full of watermelon gazpacho with roasted apricots, tomatoes, and red onions on a red, white, blue floral background. Small fresh basil clusters are arranged on the gazpacho and background.

Soup is best served cold on a hot day and this gazpacho-inspired recipe is a fine example of chilled summer soup at its best. Make this soup when local produce is readily available, this is the time to let seasonal fruits and vegetables shine. Roasting apricots, tomatoes, red onions, and a jalapeño  pepper or two gives the soup depth of flavour and a solid base for the raw ingredients. It’s absolutely crucial that this soup is chilled for at least 12 hours in order for it to taste spectacular, 24 hours is even better if you have the time. Use a fruitier extra virgin olive oil if possible, the biting peppery taste of the oil you use to cook with isn’t complementary to the lovely sweetness of the soup. I’ve also used avocado with success, it gives the finished product a delicious buttery quality. I love using sherry vinegar in this recipe as a nod to traditional gazpacho and I’ve added some additional lime juice to really underscore the sweetness of the watermelon. I like to serve this chilled watermelon soup with something tangy and rich such as creme fraiche or high-fat yogurt, finely diced avocado also works well. Pack this soup into jars for an easy picnic addition or any on-the-go meal, it’s also incredibly refreshing after any outdoor activity when temperatures are in full mid-August mode.

chilled watermelon soup with roasted apricots and tomatoes:

(makes enough for several meals and will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator)

4-5 cups of watermelon, cubed with seeds removed

6 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into quarters

6 fresh apricots, cut in half with puts removed

1 medium-sized red onion, cut into quarters

1-2 jalapeño peppers, cut in half with seeds removed

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 medium-sized cucumber, cut into a fine dice with seeds and peel removed

1 sweet pepper, cut into a fine dice

A generous handful of fresh basil, cut into a fine chiffonade

4 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup fruity olive or avocado oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the watermelon in a food processor and pulse until completely blitzed. Set aside.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes, apricots, onion, and jalapeño pepper(s) on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until everything begins to brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Scrape the roasted fruits and vegetables into the food processor with their juices. Pulse a couple of times being careful not to process until smooth, the goal is a chunky salsa-like texture.
  5. In a very large jug or bowl stir together the watermelon, roasted and chopped vegetables, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and fresh basil. Season generously with salt and paper.
  6. Cover the soup and refrigerate for 12-24 hours before serving chilled with your preferred finishing touch.

IMG_2824

Greg Gonzalez of Cigarettes After Sex has the gentlest of  singing voices, the most obvious comparison would be Hope Sandoval when she’s singing with the Warm Inventions but I also hear echoes of Low when they’re at their most sparse. This dreamy EP is just gorgeous, it’s also an album that gives me a definite feeling of time and place. It makes me think of reading in bed, sunlight filtering through semi-closed blinds, and the distinct smell of dust and library books. CAS has a playful yet melancholic sound that fills the room because of its lo-fi simplicity not despite of.

Cigarettes After Sex – Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby

Just a Little Leftover Steak Summer Salad

Summer salad of leftover steak, quinoa, blueberries, tomatoes, cucumber, arugula, and feta in a clear glass bowl on a white background.

Cold steak is the ultimate leftover, the smallest piece can be thinly sliced to yield a surprisingly generous portion perfect for any summer salad. Like everywhere else right now, it’s incredibly hot in Vancouver and using the oven is out of the question most nights. My solution is to keep a small salad bar on constant rotation in the fridge, a couple of containers full of prepped ingredient for super easy meals. I like to cook up a batch of quinoa and then cool it on a baking sheet so that it doesn’t continue to residually cook to the point of mushiness and keep it chilled in the fridge for a vegetarian and protein-rich addition to salads. Fresh fruit of any kind is what I look forward to the most when summer arrives so I love to include it in as many recipes as possible. In fact, many of the salads I make are more fruit salad than non, I’m unable to resist the bright sweetness and colour of seasonal fruit paired with salty, sharp, and bitter ingredients. Blueberries are lovely here but thinly sliced nectarines and peaches, pitted cherries, blackberries, strawberries, melon, and grapes are all welcome additions to any salad. I’ve finally succeeded in growing decent basil plants so I’m using it in all of my cooking, fresh mint, thyme, parsley, or cilantro would all taste amazing in this salad.

leftover steak summer salad:

Leftover steak, sliced as thinly as possible

Grape tomatoes, halved

Blueberries

Quinoa

Cucumber

Arugula

Feta cheese, crumbled

Fresh basil leaves

Sherry vinegar

Olive Oil

Fleur de sel (Maldon or kosher salt also works well, the “crunch” factor is what’s important)

Freshly cracked pepper

Pile all ingredients except for the vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper onto a large shallow bowl. Drizzle the salad with olive oil, following with a smaller drizzle of sherry vinegar. Top with plenty of salt and pepper. Toss and enjoy immediately.

I finally got around to listening to Morning Phase and I have totally fallen in love with the entire album, the more melancholy Beck gets the better in my opinion. This song is dreamy and nostalgic, a much-needed gentle soundtrack to my current morning phase. I highly recommend listening to this song in your summeriest pajamas while reading cookbooks and drinking cold green tea sweetened with honey.

Beck – Blue Moon